AMY FINLAYSON M.A., LPCC
Originally from the crappier streets of Baltimore, moving on to the glistening ballfields that dot the suburbs of Maryland…eventually I, Amy Finlayson graduated from the University of Maryland @ College Park with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism that I never put to use before deciding that the field of advertising was not for me. Instead I backpacked around Europe and upon returning, decided that in fact nothing I had ever known before was for me. So I charged an old Cabriolet on my first credit card, threw my silver sequined cowboy hat in the back and drove away, only knowing that I was headed west. That was 2001. So much has happened since.
Prior to entering the field of psychotherapy, I worked in many facets within the field of self-improvement, through widely varying environments, each which have provided a necessary piece of the mysterious puzzle that led me here today. I worked in youth shelters in Arizona. I gave educational jeep tours that taught me how to appreciate the living world around me. I experienced wholly different cultures and a natural opening to the rhythms and offerings of the Earth’s diverse locales. After receiving extensive leadership training and team building experience through my corporate stint at Landmark Education, I worked in wilderness/adventure therapy with at-risk adolescents in South Carolina and led leadership camps for highly motivated Diabetic teens in Sequoia National Forest. I taught classes in environmental education to 5th graders and spiritual lessons to 6-12 year olds on “How to Win the Game of Life.” I worked with a boy with Spina Bifida and underwent wilderness survival training in upstate New York. I have participated in four Vipassana meditation retreats where I sat in silence for ten 11-hour days. I have worked with master healers in the Amazon jungle. I have traveled to 26 countries and lived in eight states. I wanted to get a little sample of everything that life has to offer.
Early on, I began to study different modalities of accessing alternate states of consciousness with the intention of healing, primarily through plant medicines, breath work and shamanic ceremony. When I was 24, I began working with a Peruvian shaman and recognized the lineage that spoke most deeply to me for my own personal healing work. Upon moving to the Southwest, I also began to study and learn about Native traditions of the Southwest and different types of ceremony.
As a graduate of Southwestern College of Santa Fe, NM with a Masters in Counseling, I would say I work under the umbrella of Transformational Psychology, which honestly depends on the client…where they are and where they want to go. It was also through SWC that I participated in my first Vision Quest in 2011. After having such a profound experience, I underwent more in depth training in healing facilitation and earth based ceremony. I have led small annual fasts ever since, now having participated in a total of eight Vision Quests, either as a participant or guide.
I opened a private practice immediately after graduation. Additionally, I worked as the lead therapist at Solutions Treatment Center facilitating multiple groups and seeing individuals and couples primarily for addiction and co-occurring mental health issues. It is here that I developed as a clinical professional and discovered my love and knack for leading groups.
In early 2017, great tragedy struck my family. In a nutshell, my mentally ill brother went off his medication and killed my mother, an event that shattered my life, internally and externally. During the much needed time I took off to dive deep into my own healing process, I felt very isolated in my experience and thought of the type of resources that I wished I had available to me at the time. I realized that huge numbers of people must be out there suffering on their own. I tried grief groups and they were awful. I went for individual therapy and EMDR only to be even more traumatized by the therapist I chose and her non-humanistic methodologies. I began to understand why people don't want to come to therapy.
Years later, I've come out the other side. In 2022 I found myself in Costa Rica and finally have reached a state of peace and joy I haven't felt for decades. I am happy, whole and able to do the kind of work that actually makes a difference in peoples' lives. I’ve experienced hell face to face in a few different forms and have emerged with personal maps that can lead the way out. I’d love to hear what's happening in your life and perhaps share some of them with you.